Welcome to Ha Long Bay – where dreams of paradise become a breathtaking reality. Ha Long Bay is a testament to nature’s artistry’s sheer magnificence. With its jade waters, towering limestone pillars, enchanting hidden caves, tranquil countryside, and warm–welcoming locals, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has captivated the hearts of travelers from around the globe.
This article will list things to do in Halong Bay, including must-see attractions and thrilling activities that make this stunning Bay unlike any other.
Must-Visit Tourist Attractions In Ha Long Bay
Show table of content
- 1. Top 20 Best things to do in Ha Long Bay
- 1.1 Discover marvelous caves
- 1.2 Encountering Floating Fishing Villages
- 1.3 Journey through Quang Ninh Museum
- 1.4 Kayaking Amidst Limestone Karsts
- 1.5 Take a day cruise in Halong Bay – the best must-do in Ha Long Bay
- 1.6 Discover the beauty of Halong by Helicopter
- 1.7 Trekking in Cat Ba National Park
- 1.8 Cycling the Countryside
- 1.9 Feasting on Fresh Seafood
- 1.10 Unwinding at serene beaches in Ha Long
- 1.11 Tai Chi session on a cruise in the morning
- 1.12 Night Markets and Souvenirs
- 1.13 Explore Sun World Halong Park
- 1.14 Enjoying music on Tuan Chau Island
- 1.15 Check-in Bai Chay Bridge
- 1.16 Visit Ba Vang Pagoda
- 1.17 Yen Tu Monuments and Landscapes
- 1.18 Explore Cat Ba Island
- 1.19 Sunset at Cannon Fort
- 1.20 Bai Tho Mountain
- 2. How to get to Halong Bay?
- 2.1 From Hanoi to Ha Long Bay
- 2.2 From Hai Phong to Ha Long
- 2.3 Cruise Packages
- 3. When to visit Halong Bay?
- 4. 5-star hotels in Halong Bay Vietnam
1. Top 20 Best things to do in Ha Long Bay
Are you ready to journey to discover 20 amazing places and activities in Ha Long Bay? Below are the top 20 must-visit tourist attractions in Halong Bay that we selected for you to have the finest experience here. Enjoy!
1.1 Discover marvelous caves
Favored by nature, Ha Long has breathtaking gorgeous caves systems, all of which are worth visiting. The cave system in the bay has undergone millions of years of geological tectonics to create stalactite caves with spectacular and enchanting beauty. Ha Long Bay has around 1600 to 2000 limestone islets and islands, and a significant portion contains caves. Some of the most famous caves for you to discover marvelous caves systems in Halong Bay include:
- Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave): the French discovered the cave and named the cave “Grotte de la surprise” – the cave of surprise and amazement.
- Thien Cung Cave (Heavenly Palace Cave): With an impressively spacious area of up to 10,000m2.
- Dau Go Cave (Wooden Stakes Cave): Named after a historical event and containing various chambers.
- Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave): Named after a tragic love story featuring a unique stalactite structure.
- Hang Trong Cave (Drum Cave): Named due to the sound of wind passing through its chambers, resembling a drum’s beat.
1.2 Encountering Floating Fishing Villages
Ha Long Bay is home to many thousands of old rustic floating villages with fishing as the main livelihood. Visiting fishing villages, visitors can immerse themselves in a quiet and peaceful space, meet the locals, and know their daily lives and work. Most floating fishing villages in Ha Long Bay have a charming natural setting with the perfect combination of lush mountains on one side and emerald blue sea water on the other.
The Cua Van floating fishing village is Ha Long Bay’s largest and oldest. When night falls at Cua Van fishing village, you can take a boat tour around the town, experience pulling nets, fishing at night, and enjoy the shimmering scenery of Ha Long Bay at night. Coming here, you can see colorful houseboats and rafts next to each other. Besides, Viet Hai floating fishing village is also a promising destination where you can experience many activities such as cycling, climbing, boating, and swimming.
1.3 Journey through Quang Ninh Museum
Quang Ninh Museum has impressive architecture as it has a square shape. The massive black mirrors cover the building block, captivating tourists at first sight. The minimalist design makes this museum look modern and different from traditional museums. Inspired by the image of coal, a typical mineral of Quang Ninh, Quang Ninh Museum is a construction iconic symbol located on Ha Long’s most beautiful coastal road. From the outside, the building is like a vast mirror reflecting the beauty UNESCO natural heritage site – Ha Long Bay.
The museum’s first floor is like a space for nature and the sea. Here, visitors can admire the skeletons of sharks and giant whales. Besides, the LED screens also display a lot of helpful knowledge about the sea or the evolutionary history of the ocean floor. Going to the museum’s second floor, tourists can witness the changes in the life of locals in each period, which are vividly reproduced via the models and artifacts. The last floor is a particular area because they recreate the entire history of the fraught peril and hardship coal mining industry of Quang Ninh people through vivid models and statues.
1.4 Kayaking Amidst Limestone Karsts
Kayaking gliding through the jade water in Ha Long Bay is a must-experience activity for tourists visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the perfect ways to live in the fresh atmosphere and the spectacular beauty of the Bay. You will never get close to wonderful nature like this when kayaking amidst limestone karst, creeping into the islets, exploring hidden caves, and visiting floating fishing villages. Do not worry if this is the first time you have experienced this sport. The Bay is a calm sea area, so you can gently paddle and snap fantastic photos to capture the moment you and nature merge into one. With ticket fees ranging from 50,000 VND to 100,000 VND, you can rent a kayak in Halong Bay.
1.5 Take a day cruise – the best must-do in Ha Long Bay
Immerse yourself in the serene ambiance in Halong Bay as you relax on the sun-kissed deck, taking in panoramic views that are nothing short of magical like this. Take an incredible cruise tour to Halong Bay, full of high-class amenities is impressive to experience the enchanting beauty of Halong Bay. The cruises in the bay are well-equipped with complete facilities to ensure you have the finest experience.
From the restaurants, spa, gym, and swimming pool to bedrooms with stunning views outside, it is a fantastic chance to spend your precious time here. Moreover, savoring the magnificent sunset and sunrise from the deck with your beloved one will linger in your mind for years. A day cruise tour often lasts from 6 to 8 hours.
1.6 Discover the beauty of Halong by Helicopter
Discover the outstanding beauty of Halong Bay from a whole new perspective – in the sky! With various flight routes, diverse flight times, and reasonable service prices, Ha Long sightseeing helicopter service has helped elevate the tourist experience of tourists to a new level. It is a thrilling experience when you fly through the magnificent scenery. Halong Bay is likely a colorful ink painting with jade water and lush green mountains looking down from the helicopter. This aerial adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural splendor of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The helicopter used for sightseeing in Ha Long Bay is a new Bell 505 helicopter manufactured by the US, imported 100% brand new, and put into operation in 2019; There are 04 passenger seats and 01 pilot seat. The aircraft cabin is designed with all transparent glass, so you can see the whole scene outside, no matter where you sit. A helicopter tour lasts 10 to 30 minutes and ranges from 2,000,000 VND to 7,000,000 VND, depending on the duration and number of seats.
1.7 Trekking in Cat Ba National Park
Cat Ba National Park offers a trekking experience that merges nature’s beauty with adventure. UNESCO has recognized Cat Ba National Park as the world’s biosphere reserve. Cat Ba National Park converges limestone forest ecosystems, mangrove ecosystems, marine ecosystems, and colorful coral reefs. As you traverse the paths, you’ll encounter diverse flora and fauna, including the Cat Ba langur, a critically endangered primate found only in this region.
The best time to explore Cat Ba National Park is from April to August. Cat Ba National Park is also home to unique historical sites such as the Cannon Fort simulates the image of soldiers ready to shoot down enemy aircraft. It is amazing to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature and enjoy the birdcall sounds and rustling leaves that guide you through an unforgettable trekking journey in Cat Ba National Park.
1.8 Cycling the Countryside
What is more romantic than cycling the countryside at one of the most beautiful bays in the world? Imagine cycling on the road village, let the sunshine wake up your senses, and listening to the sound of the waves on the tranquility way. Moreover, cycling is convenient for tourists to admire the enchanting landscape of Halong Bay as they can stop at any spot that they want. The prices for bicycle renting range from 50,000 VND for one person in a day.
Viet Hai Village is one of the most must-visit locations for a biking lover. The village is deeply nestled in the Cat Ba National Park. Although Viet Hai is a small village, it has a rich ecosystem, including forests, mountains, and the sea. That is why the peaceful town is ideal for cycling in the countryside. The best times to visit Viet Hai village are February, March, and June. June is excellent for cycling as the town is in the “golden season,” rice harvest season. It is wonderful to cycle and enjoy the serene ambiance of the northern Vietnam countryside.
1.9 Feasting on Fresh Seafood
Feasting on fresh seafood here is a captivating experience that merges exquisite flavors with breathtaking views. Imagine savoring succulent grilled prawns, tender crab, and flavorful fish caught directly from the bay’s waters. Local restaurants and floating fishing villages serve an array of perfectly cooked dishes, showcasing the sea’s bounty. Whether it’s delicious grilled seafood or a nutritious seafood soup, every bite is a testament to the bay’s abundant offerings.
Remember to try Cha Muc (Squish Rolls), a specialty of Ha Long, famous for its freshness and bold flavors. The ambiance becomes enchanting as the sun sets over the tranquil waters, creating a perfect location for a seafood feast. Halong Bay not only enchants its natural wonders but also entices your taste buds, making it a must-visit destination for seafood enthusiasts and travelers seeking an unforgettable cuisine adventure.
1.10 Unwinding at serene beaches in Ha Long
Discover ultimate relaxation at the serene beaches of Ha Long, Vietnam. Nestled along the Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long owns a collection of tranquil shores that offer a perfect escape from the bustle of everyday life. Imagine strolling along soft, white sands as gentle waves caress the shore. Like Bai Chay and Tuan Chau, the beaches here invite you to unwind under the warm sun, bask in the cool sea breeze, and take refreshing dips in the clear blue waters. Whether you seek solitude or fun-filled beach activities, Ha Long has it all.
For those seeking adventure, water sports, including kayaking, jet skiing, and parasailing, await, adding an exciting edge to your beach release. As the day transforms into a canvas of colors during sunset, the serene beauty of Ha Long’s beaches becomes even more enchanting. With its stunning landscapes and soothing ambiance, Ha Long’s beaches promise an idyllic retreat that rejuvenates the mind and spirit, making it a haven for beach lovers and wanderers seeking pure relaxation.
1.11 Tai Chi session on a cruise in the morning
Immerse yourself in the serene beauty of Halong Bay by starting your day with a revitalizing Tai Chi session on a cruise. When the dawn begins around 5:30 am – 6:00 am, you wake up and climb onto the deck under the guidance of the experts to practice flexible Tai Chi movements. Picture yourself on the deck, surrounded by the calm waters and stunning limestone karsts. Practicing Tai Chi in a relaxed state of mind and body makes visitors less stressed and mentally balanced. That is why Taichi positively influences physical health and well-being, and most cruises on Ha Long Bay make Taichi a morning exercise for visitors.
1.12 Night Markets and Souvenirs
Discover the vibrant charm beyond its natural wonders by exploring the enchanting night markets and indulging in unique souvenirs is one of the best things to do in Halong Bay. Come to Halong Night Market, and tourists will be able to witness with their own eyes the bustling, bustling nightlife of this beautiful city. The night market has a total of two floors. The first floor is the exhibition area, selling souvenirs. The 2nd floor specializes in cuisine, selling all kinds of seafood, cafes, and snack stalls.
Not only famous for unique and delicious foods, the night market is an ideal place for tourists to buy handicrafts and souvenirs as gifts. At Ha Long night market, many handicrafts are made by artisans in the village. Tourists will easily buy unique and eye-catching lacquer paintings, pearl rings, seashells, wind chimes, and keychains. In addition, tourists can also buy Ha Long specialties such as dried squid and squid rolls and ready-made and convenient packaging. Visitors can also admire and buy brocade clothes and bags at Ha Long Night Market.
1.13 Explore Sun World Halong Park
Undertake an exhilarating adventure at Sun World Halong Park, where entertainment and natural beauty unite perfectly. This world-class entertainment theme park complex offers various attractions that cater to all ages and preferences. Feel the heartbeat surge as you ride the Queen Cable Car, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the bay’s stunning landscape. Experience the thrills of amusement rides like Dragon Park, where roller coasters and fun-filled games await.
For a touch of cultural immersion, visit the Zen Garden and explore its tranquil ambiance. The park also boasts the impressive Typhoon Water Park, a haven for water enthusiasts featuring exhilarating slides, wave pools, and relaxation areas. Witness the mesmerizing “Dragon’s Night” show, a spectacle of lights, music, and dance as the day turns into night. Sun World Halong Park promises a day of excitement and wonder, inviting you to create lasting memories of Halong Bay’s natural splendor.
1.14 Enjoying music on Tuan Chau Island
The Tuan Chau Island Water Music Performance Palace is a venue for hosting numerous water music shows, enhanced by breathtaking lighting displays. Encircling the palace is a spacious grandstand, accommodating over 12,000 seats. Alongside the laser lights, the resounding audio adds to the grandeur. When looking down from above, visitors will feel like they are watching the ancient Roman arena with martial artists fighting each other. Here, visitors can witness firsthand the elaborate, thrilling, and monumental art performances unavailable in any tourist destination. The programs presented here are executed with remarkable professionalism, with an average performance lasting around 40 minutes.
1.15 Check-in Bai Chay Bridge
Spanning the shimmering waters of Ha Long Bay, Bai Chay Bridge seamlessly connects the vibrant ward of Bai Chay to the picturesque Ha Long City. With a length of 1.6 kilometers, the bridge facilitates smooth transportation and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding natural beauty. The highlight in the overall architecture of Bai Chay Bridg,e is the long cable-stayed. Only a few bridges in Vietnam use such a technique to create such an elastic splash. Graceful curves and sleek lines characterize it and harmonize with the stunning landscape. Whether during the day, when the emerald waters sparkle under the sun, or at night when an array of colorful lights illuminates the bridge, Bai Chay Bridge captures the hearts of locals and visitors.
1.16 Visit Ba Vang Pagoda
Ba Vang Pagoda is the largest Buddhist center in North, Vietnam, situated in the Thanh Dang Moutain. Nestled amidst the enchanting landscapes of Halong Bay, Ba Vang Pagoda is a spiritual and sacred destination that beckons travelers seeking tranquility and cultural richness. This holy site has a serene ambiance, inviting visitors to explore its ornate architecture and immerse themselves in its spiritual atmosphere. Ba Vang Pagoda is a place of devotion, where intricate statues and serene Buddha images inspire reverence. The journey to the pagoda is as enchanting as the destination, with verdant surroundings and a sense of calm permeating the air.
1.17 Yen Tu Monuments and Landscapes
Today, through many ups and downs, the remaining relics in Yen Tu have been found, including 11 pagodas and hundreds of temples, towers, steles, statues, and convergence of many architectural and sculptural styles of the ages, all reflecting the profound influence of Tran Nhan Tong, the founder of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism. The journey to these sacred sites is a spiritual pilgrimage marked by a serene ascent and breathtaking vistas. Every year in the spring, visitors from all over the world often come to Yen Tu Monuments in large numbers for pilgrimage and sightseeing. Yen Tu festival starts on the 10th day of the first lunar month and lasts until the end of the third month.
1.18 Explore Cat Ba Island
Dubbed the Gulf of Tonkin pearl, Cat Ba Island is always on tourists’ things to do in Halong Bay with its pristine beaches and breathtaking mountain scenery. Cat Ba is an archipelago of 367 large and small islands, which UNESCO has recognized as a world biosphere reserve because of its rich and diverse biodiversity. The summer weather from May to August is also when Cat Ba Island is in the most beautiful season with pleasant weather, and not hot like other provinces in the North. Some famous spots on Cat Ba Island that you can not miss are Cat Co Beach, Tung Thu Beach, Lan Ha Beach, and Money Island.
1.19 Sunset at Cannon Fort
For historical buffs and nature lovers, Cannon Fort is perfect for experiencing the harmonic beauty and grandeur of the past and stunning scenery. Cannon Fort is a military base atop a hill on Cat Ba Island. In the late 19th century, the French built the fort during their occupation of Vietnam as a strategic location to defend against potential attacks from the sea. However, the North Vietnamese Army used the fort as a military base and lookout point to monitor American naval activities nearby during the Vietnam War.
Today, the fort is a popular tourist attraction. The Cannon Fort also has a small museum where tourists can learn more about the fort’s history and its role in the Vietnam War. One perk when conquering the fort is a chance to witness the magnificent Cat Co Beach or Lan Ha Beach from the panoramic view. Coming to Cannon Fort is coming to the harmony of heaven and earth, mountains and sea. The majestic poetic scenery and the heroic history of the Vietnamese nation both move visitors.
1.20 Bai Tho Mountain
Bai Tho Mountain is also known as “Poem Mountain”. In 1468, King Le Thanh Tong had a trip here, touched by the charming landscape of nature, and he composed a poem and carved it on the cliff. That is the reason why the mountain is named “Poem Mountain”. At just over 100 meters high, the Bai Tho Mountain boasts a prime location and a harmonious position. On one side, there’s the turquoise sea where boats gather, while on the other side lies the dynamic city with its busy traffic of cars.
The fee for climbing and sightseeing is only about 10,000 VND per person. The steps to the mountain are built of stone, relatively easy to go, and the two sides are lush green trees. The higher you go, the wind from the sea blows in, making the climbers feel refreshed and excited to conquer the top of the mountain quickly as possible. Up to the top of Bai Tho mountain, visitors can see with their own eyes the fluttering Vietnamese national flag that has been here since the years of resistance against the French.
2. How to get to Halong Bay?
To get to Halong Bay, you have a few options depending on your starting point and preferences:
2.1 From Hanoi to Ha Long Bay (Noi Bai International Airport)
- By Road: The most common way to reach Halong Bay is from Hanoi. You can book a bus, shuttle, or private car transfer. The journey takes 3-4 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
- By Seaplane: For a unique experience, you can take a seaplane from Hanoi to Halong Bay. This option offers stunning aerial views and a quicker journey.
2.2 From Hai Phong to Ha Long (Cat Bi International Airport)
By Road: If you’re arriving at Cat Bi Airport in Hai Phong, you can also travel to Halong Bay by road. The journey takes about 1.5-2 hours.
2.3 Cruise Packages
By Cruise: Many visitors opt for cruise packages that include transportation from Hanoi to Halong Bay. These cruises often depart from Tuan Chau Harbor and offer a more leisurely experience, allowing you to enjoy the scenic beauty of the bay.
3. When to visit Halong Bay?
The best time to visit Ha Long Bay in Vietnam is during the months of October to April. This period is considered the dry season, with cooler temperatures and less humidity, making it more pleasant for outdoor activities and exploring the bay. December to February are particularly popular, but you may encounter a slightly higher number of tourists during this peak season.
Ha Long Bay experiences its wet season from May to September, characterized by higher humidity and occasional heavy rainfall. Typhoons can also occur during this time, leading to rough waters and potential disruptions to boat tours and other activities. While the landscape can be lush and beautiful after rainfall, visiting during this season increases the risk of weather-related inconveniences. Above are just our suggestions and tips based on local experiences. To ensure the weather factors have not impacted your trip, please regularly update the weather forecast, or read our comprehensive guide about Weather in Vietnam to know more about the surrounding weather area.
4. 5-star hotels in Halong Bay Vietnam
Among the many aspects that visit Halong Bay unforgettable are its 5-star hotels that provide a plentiful retreat and top-notch hotels amidst this mesmerizing setting. From luxury accommodations to impeccable services, these hotels offer an extraordinary experience that complements the stunning surroundings. We will introduce you to some of the finest 5-star hotels in Halong Bay, ensuring your stay is as remarkable as the bay itself. It includes Vinpearl Resort & Spa Halong Bay, Paradise Suites Hotel, Paradise Suites Hotel, Wyndham Legend Halong Hotel, Muong Thanh Luxury Quang Ninh Hotel, and more.
In conclusion, with its stunning landscape that the mother of nature is giving the bay, along with the strive to promote available resources by the local government and people here, Halong Bay is truly one of the best places to visit in Vietnam.